Imagine, for a moment, that you are using a website. You are attempting to fill out a fairly important form. You click send, but instead of getting a “thanks for contacting us” page, you get a strange server error.
Sounds like a pain, doesn’t it?
If you don’t allow for the budget and time to test your website, that, or something similar, could happen to your visitors.
Why Testing is Important
The differences between computers, web browsers, and even screen sizes can affect the way that the site is viewed. Your website was probably built on a computer rather than a phone. Most likely in one browser.
However, there are differences in how your phone sees and displays your site and how your laptop does. Your developer’s Macbook could display it differently than your PC. Tablets have some extremely unique problems with size and shape. Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox all have specific quirks. If you need your site to be compatible with old versions of Internet Explorer, then you need to be extra careful in testing in that browser.
No matter how clear the user experience, there are going to be people who fill in your form incorrectly, there are going to be people who don’t know how to use functionality, and there are going to be people who do exactly what you’ve instructed them not to do. So you also need to make sure that your site isn’t going to go down when someone makes an error.
Another good reason to test is that if your website works well, search engines will prefer it over competitors. SEO (search engine optimization) is an important part of a high performing website. If you have better SEO than your competitors, then you’ll do better in search rankings, get more visitors, and get higher profits.
The differences between computers, web browsers, and even screen sizes can affect the way that the site is viewed.
If your agency gives you a quote for a website, chances are that they’re going to make sure they left enough time for either their development team or their Quality Assurance team to do testing. This takes time and effort to do correctly. But it is a necessary part of developing a site that does exactly what you want it to do.
“But why?” you ask. “Surely they should be able to get it right the first time!”
Think of it like this. When you’re writing a blog post for your company, how many people look over it? If you are the only one, isn’t it much more likely that some small error will be overlooked? Or that a confusing word choice will be missed? But if someone else looks at it, missing letters, bad grammar, or confusing phrases are more likely to get noticed before the public gets to it.
Development works the same way. Developers tend to build in one browser. They also can’t always think of every single edge case. Having someone else look it over in different browsers and thinking of as many ways to potentially manipulate the functionality as possible helps them find the bugs in the code before it gets launched. Then you don’t run the risk of losing a sale or conversion due to a bug in the system.
Tips for Testing Your Site Comprehensively
When your developers hand your site to you to test, here are some tips on what you can do to make sure that there aren’t any bugs in your site on launch.
Before making your site live (or promoting it) it needs to be checked in different browsers, formats, and on different devices. Some browsers and formats have problems that are not common knowledge issues that your developers can take into account when initially building your site.
Test for basic functionality. Developers will do this as well but you want to make sure everything works the way you’re hoping. This also gives another set of eyes to find the inevitable bugs before your site goes live. If your site doesn’t work or has bad user experience, people will leave.
You should also make sure that it has all of the proper functionality on mobile devices: phones make up more than 50% of all web searches. If you’re not optimized then your site won’t be visible in these phone searches. That’s a lot of potentially lost traffic!
One big thing you should test is for what happens when a user makes a mistake. You want to make sure that there are clear error messages, 404 (not found) warnings, and no misleading areas where an error message is ambiguous.
Aside from looking over it yourself, make sure that someone who did not write your copy also looks over it. Simple spelling and grammar errors make a website look significantly less professional. This causes users to lose trust in the brand, eventually resulting in lost traffic. You also need to make sure that it’s clear, readable, and understandable. If visitors don’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll leave.
Tied into copy, make sure you test all of your links. Make sure they aren’t broken, and that they go to the right place. If they go to another site, check to see that users aren’t completely redirected away from your site by opening exterior links in a new tab. Also make sure that the content still exists. Interior links need to allow the users to flow around your site.
Something else that’s extremely important to test is ecommerce. If you have a store on your site, make dummy orders. You can cancel them or something, but make sure that you test that. If you have ecommerce, that’s the literal money in your site. If there’s something wrong with the store, that’s lost revenue.
Unique functionality is something that you have to test very carefully as well, especially in a site built on an existing platform like WordPress. When something you have is highly customized, extensive functionality and error testing is very important. There is no precedent to what has been done so there likely won’t be ‘common mistakes’ that are easy to spot.
Testing the load speed of your site is vital. If your site takes too long to load for whatever reason, people will leave. One of the main reason a person will leave a site without exploring it is that the site takes too long to load. There are many reasons why your site might load slowly including images that are too large, animations that take up too much memory, and a badly organized page.
Your website is a representation of your brand. It is an employee that is just as important as your sales reps or management. As such, you need to take care of it. You wouldn’t release a badly trained employee into your office, so don’t release a buggy website into the world!